Third Secret

“Follow me,” the CEO ordered and addressed the entire office. “If any word of this gets out, I will sack the lot of you.”

Zach turned back to see nods from all of the secretaries. Then he saw that Darien had already moved away. Zach’s short legs followed the CEO down the long corridor. Despite his quick walking, he was having trouble keeping up with the long strides of the CEO.

Darien didn’t bother holding the door open for him and Zach rushed into the office before the door closed.

The office was everything he would expect from the office of a billionaire. It was very spacious, everything gleamed and the interior design had definitely cost a bomb. Darien strode through the entryway and through another door to a room with a desk and a long sofa across one wall. It overlooked a stunning view of the city.

The CEO sat down behind the desk and gestured at the chairs in front of it.

“Sit down.”

It was definitely an order and not a choice.

Zach sat down in the plush chair and his shaking legs greatly appreciated the break. Now his hands started to shake instead. This was the end of his very short career at Harper Publishing. He had only lasted a week and it was all his fault for not knowing when to shut up.

“What is said in here must never leave these walls,” Darien ordered. “Is that understood?”

Zach nodded weakly. He would agree to anything if it meant he could leave the CEO’s intimidating presence.

“I take it that you’re an intern- you look very young and I don’t recognise you,” Darien continued. “Which department?”

“Erotica,” the younger man said quietly.

Darien seemed to relax when he heard that.

“Ah, I have heard about you. The latest in the line to not realise that their fate is to read a lot of badly written smut for a year?”

That was certainly one way to describe the internship. Was it really this infamous?

“Yes,” Zach replied.

Was this the part where he was told the internship wasn’t his anymore? He hadn’t been happy with it, but the internship was better than no internship. He would have to hope that another opportunity for an internship had opened up in another publishing company.

“I’m not sacking you by the way,” Darien said and folded his arms. “Judging by what I’ve heard, letting you stay in the erotica department is enough of a punishment for you. I want something else from you.”

Zach narrowed his eyes. The conversation was taking somewhat of an inappropriate turn. Of course, he was relieved to hear that he wasn’t being sacked, but that was no longer his biggest concern.

“What do you want from me?” he questioned.

Darien unfolded his arms and looked him straight in the eye. Zach shivered at the sheer charisma in that gaze. He could see why Darien had managed to become a billionaire instead of just a man who inherited a few millions pounds.

“You are actually correct, I am gay and all those girlfriends are just a cover up,” Darien said very plainly. “I would like you to keep your mouth shut in the future.”

Zach was all too keen to agree with that. He was after all the person at a disadvantage. The internship was his fastest entrance into a properly paid job in the future.

“Of course, I respect your right to keeping your sexuality a secret. I was wrong to say what I did. I’m very sorry about it.”

Surely that was enough? He had apologised and promised to keep everything a secret. Darien would dismiss him in a few minutes and he would be free to return to the office so he could read badly written smut with displeasure.

Darien gave him a look of appraisal and Zach began to get the feeling that he wasn’t leaving the office anytime soon.

“Are your parents still together and happily married?” he enquired suddenly.

Zach took a moment to process the drastic subject change. His brain was probably going to be in panic mode for a long time.

“...Yes, they are.”

He knew he was lucky to have loving parents who still cared for him. Thinking about them gave him a new feeling in his nervous heart, homesickness. Due to the internship he was living in a city apartment that was close to the office as living with his parents would be impractical.

Darien nodded in satisfaction. Clearly he had given the answer the billionaire had been predicting.

“I could tell. Your ideas about love are idealistic because you’ve never had to witness the harsh reality.”

Zach blinked. The dark tone and words caught him off guard.

Darien looked him in the eye again.

“If you were in my position, but with your personal values, what would you do about your sexuality?”

It was most certainly a loaded question, he could feel the evaluating gaze.

Personally he had faced no particular problems with his sexuality. His parents had already suspected he was gay so that had been easy. Coming out to his school friends hadn’t caused anything negative either. He hadn’t faced any problems as an openly gay university student either. He was fully aware he was lucky in that sense.

“I wouldn’t necessarily announce it openly, but I wouldn’t hide either. Hiding it would be more trouble than being honest and would hurt other people in the process,” he answered.

Darien’s eyes gleamed with an emotion Zach couldn’t read.

“You are definitely someone who has never experienced any real difficulty in life. You are gay, aren’t you? I can tell.”

Zach nodded.

“I am indeed gay. Is there a problem with how I’ve lived my life? You’re not much older than me.”

“That’s my business,” Darien said in a clipped tone. “I’m still considering what to do with you.”

There was the undeniable feeling of unease in the air as he remained under Darien’s unwavering gaze. He knew a decision had been made when Darien stood up and moved to stand directly in front of him. He leaned down and Zach felt trapped in his smouldering eyes.

“For the next year, I want to spend a lot of time with you. If I feel differently about love, feel much happier and believe in your values by the end of next September, I’ll reward you.”

Zach blinked. That was not what he had been expecting to hear in the slightest. What did he even mean by ‘spend a lot of time’. Did he want to go out with him? The look in his eyes certainly didn’t indicate that was the case.

There wasn’t love or any kind of affection in those cold eyes, there was only curiosity.

“What does spending time with you entail?”

Darien folded his arms again and jerked his head.

“Don’t think that I want to date you, that would defeat the purpose of dating so many ladies. If you agree, I won’t date anyone for a year and I’ll spend my spare time with you and if you can have a significant effect on me, I’ll give you something you want- apart from myself that is.”

Zach scoffed loudly.

“You’re not even my type.”

He didn’t know where the confidence to talk back to someone who he had been convinced was going to sack him five minutes before. The randomness of the conversation had to be spurring him on.

“I’m just making my intentions clear. What do you need? Money, I’ve got plenty.”

Zach was quick to reject that. His dream wasn’t to have a large amount of money fall into his lap and never have to work again. He wanted to work for it.

“I don’t want cold hard cash,” he retorted. “I want to earn my way through life.”

He didn’t expect a look of approval from Darien for that, but that was what he received.

“Excellent, I like to hear things like that. Would you prefer for me to arrange for a secure and decent position in this company at the end of the year?”

Zach liked the sound of that much better.

“Outside of the erotica deparment,” Darien added.

“I’ll take it,” Zach said immediately.

It was everything he could want in life. He was just going to have to do his best to change Darien’s depressing outlook on life.

The adrenaline running in his body from the sheer roller coaster of emotions he had experienced in ten minutes, kept throughout the handshake and didn’t wear off until he was outside the office of the erotica department.

What had he just agreed to?

For the next year he was stuck with an attractive yet very cold man who was the most pessimistic person he had ever met. How was he even going to manage to change him into a person who was happy and believed in love?

Comments (2)
goodnovel comment avatar
Lynnburger Morris
And let the game begin
goodnovel comment avatar
Myra Baclea-an Berongoy
nice to read this book...

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